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The Pursuit of Beauty

I'm M.C.A. Hogarth, author and artist. I write fiction (science fiction, fantasy, romance, etc), nonfiction (mostly about business and parenthood) and draw pictures, mostly of dragons, elves and people in beautiful clothes. I am also currently (as of July 2015) serving as the Vice President of SFWA. Below you can see some of what I'm doing currently, and check up on my status.

     Kickstarter: Nothing planned until 2016!
     Patreon (mcahogarth): Get a la carte short fiction, audiobook segments, coloring book sheets, and whatever else I feel like offering up to people who are tipping me!

     Where do I start? Check my recommendations here, with links!
     Latest Releases: You can use my book launch tag to see what was most recently published.
     Newsletter: Here's my newsletter, which you can join for for news and special offers!

     Latest Sale: Originals are for sale here. My Zazzle store offers prints, mugs, shirts, bags and such! Otherwise you can keep up on my offers on Livejournal through my "sale" tag.
     Archive: If you have a lot of spare time and haven't browsed it yet, I have over 3000 images available on my old website, sketches, paintings and comics.
     Deviantart: I also have a DA account at user mcah.

     The Nebula Awards Weekend 2016
     Worldcon 2016

Balance Card 5-Card Readings: Not Available
Balance Card Keepsake Paintings: Not Available
Commissions: Not taking them.
Illustration projects: Not taking them.

Fan Fiction Policy
Explained here.

Typo Reports
If you find typo or formatting errors in my books, please report them here.

P.O. Box
Email me for my address, if you'd like to request materials or send a tip or donation.

Please keep your language PG-13 and your icons work-safe while visiting. Thank you!
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I am not vanished, I promise! But I spent an intensive few days editing the book after finishing it, and have only just delivered it to my first readers, and am now very involved in preparing all the marketing materials for it so that I can put it up for sale as soon as I consider the beta readers' comments. My headspace will free up after that... significantly. Which is good because I have a great deal to do in order to arrange my new schedule, once summer camp is in full swing and I can relax into a routine.

In the mean-time, I've been drawing Chatcaava (because Book 4, Princes' Game).

My first picture of the Knife (and yes, I know I've done a billion cartoons of him since, but they're all based on my hazy memory of this image). I've had so few significant Chatcaavan characters that I've never really had to think about how they differ from one another, visually. "How would I do a portrait of the Knife, and how would it look different from Uuvek or the Emperor?" was not a question I ever seriously considered until recently.

The Knife again, this time with his shape-shifted Seersan form. (Again, more questions I didn't consider: what features carry over into the shifted forms?)

This, though, is where it started getting interesting for me because doing these three separate males gave me a sense for a couple of things:

1. The different face shapes, and how they might be called. The Worldlord has an 'axe-head' (which I decided on after thinking very carefully about whether the Chatcaava had axes and deciding that there are probably only so many blade shapes that would be useful on trees). Manufactory-East is edging perilously close to a 'chicken-head', which is considered unattractive—this is ironic, because there's only a thin difference between too much forehead height (ugly) and not enough (also ugly). A nice brow ridge is considered masculine (for good reason, more below). Deputy-East, on the lower right, has an 'aerodynamic head', which is admired for its utility but not considered as handsome as axe-heads or proper ridged heads.

This is probably more than any of you wanted to know about Chatcaavan attractiveness, but hopefully you're at least a little glad that I know that much about Chatcaavan attractiveness?

2. Further, I've been thinking about how the horns and face and hide are affected by sex hormones. The brow ridges (with the spikes leading back over them) are seen only in adult males. Similarly, while females will grow the plate horns (the two that come straight back off the skull in line with the eye sockets), the other horns are grown only by males, and include a line from behind the cheek down toward the shoulder on either side of the face, and a row between the two central horns down the spine.

Horns continue to grow, if slowly. They don't mend unless you glue the broken bits of them back on, but they will get longer. Some males grow more horns than others; this indicates a more aggressive/dominant personality. (Whether that's true or not is up for grabs, as usual.)

So now I'm left with the fascinating idea that these different head shapes, and possibly even horn configurations, are a racial feature, and that there are several races of Chatcaava. Wouldn't that be interesting?

(The Knife would be said to have a 'shark-face'. It's the sort of face that people associate with young, clean-cut, and conscientious/competent sorts. Naturally.)

(Does this count as part of the Pelted world-building serial thing I haven't had time to get going? I'm going to decide it does!)

Anyway! Art! Soon, more stuff, especially news!

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Current Mood: amused amused

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Started April 5th. Took a week off for the Nebulas, so I missed my May 15th deadline. But I'm not far off (in fact, exactly as far off as the days I spent in Chicago, so at least my internal chronometer was accurate).

This book is far longer than I thought it would be, and it's going to get longer once I do my revision pass because of the number of times I said, "Oh, right, they're in a room, I should do an establishing shot but HEY NO TIME FOR THAT GOTTA GET THE PLOT DOWN NOW". So I expect it to grow by another 5000 words at least before I finish tidying. I anticipate that to take a week or so. First readers, particularly those who just did Amulet Rampant a few months ago, please throw your hat in the ring now if you're interested in helping out with this one! Continuity (internal to this book, and external to the series) are my big needs, but the usual 'hey, you misspelled this' stuff is also important.

But anyway. That's for later. For the rest of today, I CELEBRATE. By riding a horse and having a nice lunch. *beams* *dances* *fallsover*

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Current Mood: YAY
Current Music: The Final Countdown

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Over on Twitter and DeviantArt there's a meme going around, #artvsartist, that asks people to put themselves in the center of a square of 8 pieces of their own art (emphasizing faces). This seemed like tremendous fun, so I did it too!

I've always felt like artists look like their work. Not literally, but something about it—the same thing about it that makes a 'Maggie picture' look like another 'Maggie picture' probably—also makes that picture look like the person. Some expression of spirit that makes a person exclaim, "Oh, but of course you did that!"

If you browse through the meme, I think you'll find that's often true. I had a great time skating around, thinking, "Oh, how lovely! And how apt." Go check it out yourself. :)

(From this meme, I learned that one of the literal qualities I share with my art is a definitive eyebrow, though... wow, I had no idea I was doing that! Particularly funny because I get my eyebrows shaped by other people, so it's not like they're even natural! Lol.)

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Current Mood: glee

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I'm trying to organize myself here, decompress from the trip (and finish writing Open... only seven scenes left!). But I've decided that immediately after coming home with Daughter is a good time to relax by switching gears and drawing. And coloring books sound like just the thing to make. Now's the time for your vote!

Poll #2044943 Coloring Book, Get!

Theme for the next coloring book:

based on your novels!
for kids!

If you already voted on twitter, you don't have to vote again. Or you can if you want to prejudice the vote in your choice's favor, but then you have to promise to buy two copies. *grin*

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Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Alphaville - Wishful Thinking

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I am back from the Nebulas! And this is about how I feel right now. There's a lot of accumulated stuff I have to get to, emails to answer, expense reports to file, etc... plus this novel I'm supposed to be finishing! And it's going to take me a few days to catch up. But I promise to tell you all about it once I'm settled, and caught up on my sleep debt!

And yes, that's about how I feel right now. >.>

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Current Mood: sooooo tirrrreedddddd

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Awww, yeah. Check out that tooth-sparkle.

I am on my way to the 2016 SFWA Nebula Conference! Where I will be acting all VP-like and dignified and... right, probably bouncing around like a pony. Jaguar. Whatever. You know what I'm like!

Anyway, I'll probably be easy to keep track of, since all the officer meetings are on the schedule. Or if you want to find me, tweet @ me or send me a quick email (or text message, if you know my number). I'll be there from Wednesday afternoon until early Sunday morning, so there will be plenty of opportunities to run into me.

If you live near the Chicago area, consider stopping by! You don't have to be a member to attend! Our programming is excellent, and even includes opportunities to meet with business partners like Amazon and Patreon and Bookbub! If you don't live nearby, keep an eye on the #Nebulas hashtag on twitter. Or just watch mine, I'm sure I'll be talking/photographing things all over the place. :)

Hope to see some of you there, and looking forward to telling you all about it when I get back!

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Current Mood: eeeeeeeeeeee
Current Music: Shakira - Try Everything

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We are setting out clothes for my trip and talking, Daughter and I. "So, will you miss me?" I ask, teasing.

"Of course!" she said. "I'll miss spending time with you!"

"Really?" I ask with a lopsided smile. "Even though most of the time we're together I'm telling you no?"

She laughs. "Yes!" And then, "I like that!"


"No really!" she says, pressing her hand to her heart. "I might not look it on the outside, but I'm glad you tell me how to act because I know I'm going to need to know those things when I'm older."

"Really?" I say, startled.

"Yes!" she says, and rises and begins to shamble like a monster. "Otherwise I'd be all like 'AAHhhhh I have no MONEY' 'AaaaaAAAAH I HAVE NO JOB' 'AAAHhhhh GIVE ME YOUR money I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!"

I burst out laughing. She does too. And adds, "Seriously!" And then, "AAhhhhHHHH I'm dumb and didn't go to school and didn't go to college!" "AAHhhhHHH NOW I'M HUNGRY!"

I fall over on my back. And I thought the messages my parents pounded into me were obvious, but even at their most obvious, I didn't recognize them the way Daughter does. Internalize them? Absolutely. Recognize them consciously as life strategies to maximize success? Absolutely... not.

"Well, I'm glad you feel that way," I say.

"AAhahAHHHH," she says.

"Aahahhhhahahhh," I say.


For Mother's Day I get those cards that elementary teachers make kids fill out as school activities. Mine is full of gems of honesty and truth:

("What am I doing?" "Folding laundry." "Whose clothes am I folding?" "Daddy's." "Do you think I want to be folding Daddy's clothes? NoooOOOoo. But I do it because I love him. That's why we all help out around the house.")

Bake, lie down, and... actually, I think I'll just keep lying down. Let's watch a movie! From the prone position!

(To be fair, a lot of the lying down we do is flopped together when we discuss something, but... yes, Mommy is essentially lazy. It is the jaguar thing.)


We have seen Zooptopia twice. The song has a good message, and as usually she glommed onto it because it's pop and singable. But that's fine. I like it and I don't mind her singing things at the top of her lungs that I want her to internalize like "No one learns without getting it wrong."

"Can I walk on the treadmill, Mommy?"

"Yes," I say. "Let me finish making this smoothie, then I'll come watch over you."

We repair to the treadmill and she walks on it for a while. I say, "You know, it's better with music. Here." And I plug in my phone and set it to our playlist. It starts with "Try Everything" and she perks up, and when Shakira opens up, she sings too.

So do I.

When she was young, she sang without consciousness of other people around her. Then she didn't want anyone singing with her: that was her "I am paying attention to myself and how I sound and this experience, and you are interrupting it" stage. Now she's reached the 'singing with other people is great' phase, and we sing together. We sing a great deal, because she's good at it, and it's one of the ways we connect without strain. Mommy isn't telling her 'no' or how to act when we're singing. We're doing something in literal harmony. Our voices when we sing together blend well: our timbres are eerily similar despite the pitch differences.

She walks on the treadmill, singing. And when she hits a part where she doesn't know the lyrics, she suddenly looks at me, and this is new. She doesn't usually like to admit she doesn't know everything, but for once she is asking me tacitly to help. So I enunciate clearly so that she can tell what the lyrics are, and on the second time around she sings them to me with a grin and that sparkle in her eye that says, "Check me out, Mom, I got it!"

We are alone on our side of the house. We belt it out. I hear the echoes in the rest of the rooms, like ghosts of the future. Look how far you've come, they whisper. You filled your heart with love.


I walk her into school, the way I always do. She stops me at the gate and gives me a preemptive hug. "Oh," I say. "Am I not going in today?"

She shakes her head and gives me an extra squeeze. "I love you."

"I love you too," I say. "Have a great day." I kiss her hair and she leaves—quickly, to go greet her friends without the embarrassment of Mom doing all that Mom stuff near them. I turn and head resolutely to the car, and narrow my eyes to make sure I don't ruin my eyeliner. And smile ruefully at the security guard, whose expression is compassionate. I wonder how many parents he's seen go through this transition. The fact that we all do makes me feel better.

I still use the rearview mirror to do touch-ups.


"Come lie down with me," I say, and she flops next to me. I wrap my arms around her. "I got you!"

"No you don't!" she exclaims, wiggling free. I let her go without fighting, and she says, "Aren't you going to try to stop me?"

"No," I say. "They say that if you love something, set it free! And if it loves you, it will come back—"

"Okay," she says. "Then I'm leaving!" And traipses off merrily, pleased at her joke.

I finish my paraphrase: "—someday."


"Will you miss me while you're on your trip?" she asks—teasing, because she is confident of the answer.

Which I give her, easily, because it's true. "Yes."

"Yes, I will."

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Current Mood: LOL

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Now one of my most important holidays. Bring on the chocolate and lemon bars! To all my mom (and grandmom, and great-grandmom, and mom-to-be!) friends: bless you all. We're in the trenches together.

Animation today is an experiment in a lot of cut-and-pasting. Mom Jaguar, Daughter, Jaguar-Mom, and (heavenly!) Jaguar-Grandmom, visiting to bob in benevolent cheer at us all!

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Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Current Music: Whale Trail music

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I finally figured out how to copy a cel! So here was my first try at a loop, drawn after going to see Zootopia with Child. So put on "Try Everything" and watch her wave her hands along. :)

Not perfectly happy with it, but I feel like I was learning, so it even fits with the theme of the song...!

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Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Shakira - Try Everything

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"So you'll like this," the Dean says. "This policy mess, just listen to this, though I guess it's only your problem for another twenty-four hours."

"Another eight, actually," I say, serene, and laugh at her expression of dismay. "Don't worry, I'll help out where I can."

So that was it, today. When I logged out of work, my salaried position expired. Monday I'll be back on contract as a part-timer, working M-R from 8 to 1 PM. Which will give me a wonderful couple of hours of time to work before it's time to get Daughter from school. I can't wait.

...or at least, that's how it's going to work in the future, but not next week because I am off to the Nebula Conference on Wednesday and won't be back until Sunday. So a short week for me, interrupted by travel (ugh) and a con (yay!) where I will do my magisterial best to execute the duties of SFWA VP with dignity and grace—okay, right. I'll probably be bouncing and beaming at everyone like a pony on a sugar-high. But I'll make up in animation what I lack in gravitas? Yeah, that's the ticket. *laugh*

Driving out of the work parking lot this afternoon, I thought, "I have almost an hour and a half! I could celebrate! Go have a lovely dessert at a fancy cafe, read a book, relax and pamper myself!"

"...or I could write the end of that scene, which I want to edit with this bit of info anyway, and oh, the next scene's going to be interesting—"

...hopeless workaholic, thy name is Jaguar.

Speaking of which, while racing rowyn I won NaNoWriMo accidentally (so did she!). I stopped yesterday, after thirty days, with 92,000 words. I'm not near enough to the end for my taste, but I can see it from here, and I'm at the top of the momentum curve and falling down it. Once you're going, there's something comfortable about working at this pace, like a racehorse out the gate. You run until you're done, and it's effort and exhausting but you are dimly aware of the pleasure of having a body magnificently conditioned to the work to which you've put it. This is my work, and I have been conditioned to it, and it's grueling but there is satisfaction in it. You finish, you take a break, dancing and loosening yourself up... and then you do it again.

Lovely, lovely life.

(And then I think 'I'm so close to the end I can see it but I haven't written the blurb or done the cover art or any of the marketing prep' and suddenly it's AAAAAAAAAAAAAH rush around like a cat with its fur on fire aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh. Once again: the gravitas of the jaguar VP. Behold and marvel.)

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Current Mood: amused amused

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Muse striking you in the car...

Note that I had to write 300+ pages to get to the point where I have to write or my brain will get overwritten. The muse did not visit me. I kept pounding on its door until it said, "Oh really? You want a piece of me? You should have been careful what you ask for... by the way RIGHT NOW YOU NEED A PEN RIGHT NOW BETTER HOPE THAT RED LIGHT LASTS LONG ENOUGH TO GET THIS DIALOGUE DOWN"

It is so tough to slog to that point, and sometimes that point never comes. But when it does, it's like flying—

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Current Mood: rolling downhill
Current Music: Birdy - Keeping Your Head Up

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My first take at the Jokka face was running at something crazy like 24 fps (and a new drawing every frame!) and it is kind of blinding. I wasn't happy with it... I mean, I liked the individual drawings and I liked the idea, but I wanted it to work better.

Here's my second take, done today. I was specifically thinking about the advice ruggels and smudge_dragon gave me about timing. This take is half the frames (and running only at 8 fps), but I am startled at how much more "readable" it is. The Jokka is obviously speaking only one word, but I believe the word.

I can see now just how much I don't know, and it is breathtaking. But kind of awesome. :)

I haven't done an animation for two days, and that's because I'm at the top of the downhill slope of this roller coaster for Book 4. I can see the end from here, and there's a lot to do before I get there, but the momentum's behind me now and it's going to blow by really quickly compared to the beginning of the book. I wish I could give you excerpts from it, but by now they are so spoilery I don't know what I could pick. And folks, the events in this one are surprising even me. I mean, I knew they were coming, but I didn't? You know how that works.

Here's my wordcount... right now. That's since April 5. By May 5, I don't know where I'll be, but I expect by May 15, this draft will be done.

*rolls shoulders* Back to it. Animations only when I'm too exhausted writing to continue.

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Current Mood: fierce
Current Music: Birdy - Keeping Your Head Up

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I did both of these yesterday before smudge_dragon and ruggels 's latest helpful comments, so I can't wait to do something new incorporating what they've explained! But for now...

Medic asked for a Flitzbe animation. (??!) So I... did my best? O_o

Seriously, it's just a colored koosh ball rolling around. >.>

(Anyone else remember koosh balls?)

Then, for the couple of people who requested an Ai-Naidari, that became inevitably a language lesson:

In this one I did my mightiest best to figure out how to get a text layer into the animation, but nothing I did seemed to make it stick. Super-frustrating. I wanted to write out the etymology under there, but handwriting it would have been awful.

carlhh asked reasonably why I was sticking to this program despite its limitations, and that's a good question. I think the fancy, deep answer is... limitations can be helpful. Working within 24 frames is keeping me from getting too ambitious while I'm still figuring out the basics; for instance, when I got the Ai-Naidar prompt, I thought "I'll do this thing where we see the Calligrapher working at his desk, then we cut to the paper and watch him write some calligraphy!" And... um, no. Not there yet. And fortunately, I can't do that in 24 frames. (Or at least, I can't, anyway.) Being forced to stick with simple things when I don't know anything is a good thing.

Eventually I'll need the longer animation lengths so I can start being bad at directing as well as animating. But first things first.

The less fancy, shallow answer to that question is... I'm lazy. When I updated Clip Studio, which I already have installed, the animation menu just appeared. If I wanted to get the program ruggels recommended I'd have to drag myself to some other website, install it, and learn how to draw on it. >.>

Right now, animation is my treat for writing. I seem to be doing one after every writing session, which is why we're getting so many of them. (The book is 63,000 words long right now: that's over 250 paperback pages, and I'm putting in 8-10 pages a day.) I'm not super-motivated to treat it more seriously until I'm done with the draft I'm working on, which is also why I've put all these books on animation people have been recommending on my wish list but not buying them. (Yet!)

At least, that's how I'm behaving NOW. We'll see if that continues. (But seriously, I want to finish the draft before the end of May really badly. More badly than I want to animate!)

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Current Mood: working working
Current Music: Birdy - Keeping Your Head Up

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Trying to incorporate now what I've learned from both smudge_dragon and ruggels .

Some emotional stuff, first!

Jaguar STAHP face

This was mostly about body language, and trying to remind myself that I don't have to have respect the "box". Having her hand "cover the lens" was my way of trying to shake myself out of treating it as a rigid piece of portraiture.

Another "let's think about where the box is and where the character is positioned in relation to the box" thing, where the idea was "let's have it be jack-in-the-box like, with her popping out of 'nowhere'."

This is one where I wish I could use Smudge's advice more about timing, but I'm still trying to figure out the timing tools in the program I'm using. Still, recognizing that I want to mess with the timing is handy, because it means these things are now entering my mental radar.

Then, now that I've practiced and thought about everyone's advice, I re-did the jaguar-dance:

It's a little annoying to have to truncate longer things at 24 frames, but I'm not sure if it's "$150 to upgrade" annoying. >.>

Whatever the case, I like this one a lot more, up until the last couple of frames when I realized 'oh crud, I'm running out of my 24 frames, I need to end this fast'. I like the 'oh, hey, I'm sweaty and hee hee embarrassed I guess I'll stop' as a story idea, but it really wanted a little more time to execute it properly.

Still having fun!

On my list I have 'jaguar blush' and 'some Ai-Naidar' (and yes, 'flitzbe doing something', though what I don't know. Rolling around, maybe.) We'll see what I feel like doing next. |)

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Current Mood: amused amused

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